Entrepreneur Makes History, Opens First Ever Black-Owned Bank in Arkansas

Arlo Washington

Meet Arlo Washington, the founder and CEO of People Trust Community Federal Credit Union, an accredited, full-service credit union in North Little Rock, Arkansas that provides access to capital to low and moderate-income communities. It is the first and only Black-owned financial institution in the entire state of Arkansas.

Growing up in the city of Little Rock, Washington experienced his own financial struggles. He was left to support his 2 younger sisters when his mother died. He moved to New York and started working as a fashion model and barber at the age of 19. But he eventually decided to return to his hometown to attend college. Using some of his student loans, he managed to open his own barbershop after 2 years.

Washington said it was his first encounter with loans and he had no financial education then. He soon opened more barbershops as he learned more entrepreneurial knowledge. Nearly a decade later, he opened a total of 7 barbershops as well as his own barber college.

In 2009, when the last payday lending storefront in Arkansas closed for business, Washington saw a lot of people coming to the barber college seeking loans. That's when he realized the need for financial services in the community.

He started by offering low-interest, small-dollar loans using $1,000 in funds that he set aside from the barber college's monthly profits. That eventually expanded into the People Trust Community Loan Fund, which is a not-for-profit community development financial institution.

Still, it was not enough to meet the growing banking needs of the community. It inspired him to start a credit union that allows loan fund customers to open savings accounts. Although it was not easy to establish a credit union, Washington pushed through and became just one of the 4 new credit unions chartered in the US in 2022.

People Trust Community Federal Credit Union aims to help many of those who were unable to open accounts at traditional banks. It will provide them with services such as checking and savings accounts, new and used auto loans, personal loans, credit cards, and more.

"People Trust will challenge the disparity of access in financial services for minorities," Washington said, according to Talk Business. "People Trust is excited to focus on eliminating economic barriers by providing underserved and underbanked individuals with financial opportunity. When we provide equal access to minorities for financial services, we ultimately are empowering our entire community."

Learn more about the People Trust Credit Union via its official website at PTCFederal.org

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